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School District to seek input on adjusted school calendar, middle school construction

— Moffat County School District is preparing to start construction on a new middle school building and complete capital improvements at its other schools, district officials said.

And they’re not doing it alone.

They’re seeking input from teachers, administrators and parents.

Construction of a new middle school is part of a $29.5 million capital improvement package voters approved last year. The district’s bond issue also covers campus upgrades to existing school buildings.

The district plans to remove nine days from the next two school years to make time for summer construction, Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.

The first day of school for students next year is scheduled for Sept. 2 – approximately two weeks later than last year’s date. Teachers are scheduled to return to school Aug. 25 for teacher training and work days, Bergmann said.

That doesn’t mean students and teachers have more time off.

State law requires the district’s schools maintain a prerequisite number of student contact hours. To meet those requirements, the district will either lengthen the school day by about 25 minutes or remove current vacation days from the calendar.

The calendar change could apply to Maybell Elementary, although capital upgrades won’t affect the school.

“Maybell (Elementary) will probably follow reduced schedule as the rest of the school district, but (district officials) haven’t discussed it yet,” Bergmann said. “It wouldn’t be fair (for the school) to start two weeks before everyone else.”

Conversations with the School Board last month indicated its members were in favor of adding more time to the school day, Bergmann said.

But School Board members are waiting for public input before making a decision at their Feb. 28 meeting.

During the next three weeks, Parent Accountability Committee meetings at each school in the district will allow parents to weigh in on the proposed calendar adjustments. Board members will consider their feedback when deciding whether to lengthen the school day or remove vacation days, Bergmann said.

“I think that the public will be very supportive of the proposed calendar,” Bergmann said, adding that community members had voiced desires to start the school year after Labor Day.

The district also is seeking input from Craig Middle School faculty and staff on the new middle school’s design.

The district awarded a design-build contract to Neenan Archistruction. The firm will complete all capital improvements throughout the district.

Neenan representatives are meeting with CMS teachers and administrators every other week to discuss building components, including floor plans, cabinetry and furniture.

“We’ve had a lot of good input from the staff,” said Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan.

The district will release a newsletter about every two weeks listing updates in the capital construction project.

In its January newsletter, the district announced that no changes to the current kindergarten through 12th-grade configuration will be enacted until the 2008-09 school year.

“We can now confidently make a decision that we will leave all school configurations as they currently exist,” the newsletter reported.

Construction on the new middle school, which will take place where the existing middle school still stands, will begin this summer and continue until the following year, requiring school district officials to decide how to house students during the construction process.

“Exactly how we will house the CMS staff and students is still a work in progress,” according to the newsletter.

When the new middle school is completed, all elementary school buildings will house kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students will attend Craig Middle School and Craig Intermediate School, which now holds fourth and fifth grades, will be converted into an elementary school.

Other components of the capital improvement project are under way.

Schools throughout the district are identifying hardware and software “essentials” in preparation for technology upgrades, the newsletter reported.

The School Board approved the project at its December board meeting.

Lighting renovations in the district’s buildings began last month. The project was intended to reduce the district’s operating costs by replacing outdated lighting with energy-efficient equipment.

“The district will now be guaranteed $65,324 per year by installing these efficient lamps and ballasts,” according to the newsletter.

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